Pelosi tells Trump no State of the Union on Tuesday

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday she will block President Trump from delivering the State of the Union address in the House chamber until the government reopens, rejecting the president’s demand to deliver the speech on Jan. 29.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said she would not move forward with the legislative steps needed for the address to take place.

{mosads}“The House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president’s State of the Union address in the House chamber until government has opened,” she wrote.

By refusing to schedule a vote on the resolution, Pelosi is preventing Congress from meeting in a joint session for the purpose of hearing Trump’s address.

The Speaker said she would invite the president to deliver his speech “on a mutually agreeable date” but only “when government has been opened.”

Pelosi’s move raises the stakes in her battle of wills with Trump over the annual address and the partial government shutdown, which was sparked by an impasse over funding for the president’s border wall and has stretched into its 33rd day.

It comes just hours after Trump informed her in a letter that he would move ahead and deliver the address at the Capitol on the 29th, essentially daring the Speaker to scrap his plans.

“Nancy Pelosi — or Nancy, as I call her — she doesn’t want to hear the truth,” Trump told reporters at the White House, calling Pelosi’s decision “a great, great horrible mark” for the country.

“I don’t believe it’s ever happened before. And it’s always good to be a part of history but this is a very negative part of history,” he said.

Trump suggested he may deliver the speech at a different venue, saying “we’ll do something in the alternative.” He provided no details about his plans.

The move is fraught with risk for Pelosi, who is facing calls from some rank-and-file Democrats to take steps toward ending the shutdown.

Trump accused Pelosi of caving to the “the super-left Democrats, the radical Democrats,” by nixing his speech, adding “what’s going on in that party is shocking.”

But many others in her party have backed her willingness to take a hard line against Trump and Democratic lawmakers quickly began lining up in support of Pelosi’s decision.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) predicted the Speaker will have plenty of backing within the liberal-leaning caucus if she holds the line as long as the government remains closed.

“We are a separate but co-equal branch of government. We are not an extension of the executive office,” he said. “And I would hope Mr. Trump doesn’t test that constitutional principle.”

Members of Pelosi’s leadership team quickly praised the Speaker’s decision, citing the urgency of reopening the government and the injustice of asking law enforcement officers to work without pay to secure the Capitol during the speech.

“There’s nothing preventing us from opening up the government today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. And we should do everything we can to prioritize that,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), the fourth-ranking House Democrat. “The issue is … that everyone should be getting paid, and families are being left without.”

Republicans were quick to hammer Pelosi’s decision, framing it as a highly political move designed to excite a liberal base that’s been newly empowered by the Democrats’ midterm victories. 
“I think it’s a sign of the extreme leftward lurch of her leadership and her party,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a close Trump ally. “Call it pandering to her base, who would be applauding this, because she’s flexing her muscles. But I do not think the American public will react well to it.
“Politically, he wins, she loses, because it’s very petty,” Collins continued. “I’m surprised, frankly. Big mistake.”
Pelosi first invited Trump to deliver his address on Jan. 3, shortly after she took the Speaker’s gavel.

She explained her decision to rescind the invitation in the letter to Trump, saying “there was no thought that the government would still be shut down” when she invited him to speak.

The Speaker requested last week that Trump postpone his address, citing security concerns related to the shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security and Secret Service, which develop security plans for the speech, are both operating without funding.

But Trump dismissed those concerns, saying he received assurances from administration officials the event would be secure, and said he wanted to deliver the address as previously scheduled.

“It would be so very sad for our country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” Trump wrote.

Collins predicted Trump will still deliver a major speech next Tuesday, recommending that he take it out of Washington.
“He’s going to do it. I don’t know where, but if I had to guess, it’s probably going to be from another city. … The Senate chamber’s too small,” Collins said. 

— Mike Lillis contributed to this report, which was updated at 4:12 p.m.

Tags Chris Collins Donald Trump Gerry Connolly Nancy Pelosi

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